The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has discussed the continuing detention of the Arctic 30, including Tasmanian Colin Russell; joined by Greenpeace representatives and members of Colin Russell’s family.

The Arctic 30 comprise 28 Greenpeace members and two journalists. They were detained by Russian authorities during a protest at the Prirazlomnaya offshore drilling facility in the Arctic on 19 September.

The Arctic 30 were charged with piracy but subsequently the charge was changed to hooliganism, a serious offence in Russia punishable by up to seven years imprisonment.

Last Friday Russian authorities applied for a three month extension to Colin’s pre-trial detention period after the Arctic 30 have already been held for 62 days.

“The Abbott Government needs to take immediate action to ensure justice for Colin,” Mr Wilkie said.

“The Arctic 30 were exercising their fundamental right to protest. Their lengthy detention, not to mention prospect of a very long stint in a Russian gaol, is way out of proportion to their actions and legitimate cause for Australian Government intervention.

“At very least the Prime Minister needs to pick up the phone to President Putin and express his concern, which is what other world leaders have already done. Moreover the Foreign Minister would be well within her rights to haul in the Russian Ambassador and make the case for the Arctic 30’s immediate release.

“The Prime Minister was prepared to intervene personally in the case of Australians Matthew Joyce and Marcus Lee in Dubai. Seems a businessman is more important than an environmental activist.

“Colin’s charges carry serious penalties if he is convicted and it is unacceptable that Russian authorities should hold him for another three months while they prepare the case against him.

“I commend the Tasmanian Parliament for passing a bipartisan motion calling on the Foreign Minister to intervene and secure Colin’s release.”
Andrew Wilkie, Independent Member for Denison